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Preseason Check In - Tim Borden

A big-bodied infielder, Borden broke out in 2022 after a transfer from Louisville to Georgia Tech and kept the momentum going in pro ball. Could he be the Astros’ next great late round find?

Tim Borden ran into some brutal luck during his amateur career that pushed him to the margins of scouts’ radars entering 2022 despite solid prep pedigree - after redshirting 2019 with Louisville, he was limited to just 21 games in 2021 thanks to injury, leaving him with a short, up and down track record and an advanced age of 22. Seeking a fresh slate, he transferred to Georgia Tech, where he had first crack at starting middle infield duties, and with health on his side was able to seize a starting role and run with it. In 59 games roaming the infield, he would end up hitting .335/.466/.689 in 264 PAs, clubbing 20 homers with a 64/28 K/BB ratio.

The whiff rate obviously wasn’t outstanding, but he really made the most out of his contact, and that combined with his real defensive versatility made him an intriguing late round stab for the Astros. He would sign for a $50k bonus before getting a quick start in pro ball, starting with an 11 game stint with FCL Astros Blue. He didn’t have his power stroke at the complex, but managed to post a .432 OBP in the brief sample thanks to a strong 8/7 K/BB ratio in 37 PAs while playing second, third and short.

The Astros decided to get a late season look at him in Asheville, a pretty tough assignment out of the gates for even an older college player like Borden. In 15 games, he appeared very much up to the task, hitting .298/.385/.632 with 6 home runs in just 65 PAs, though he did strike out a concerning 29 times. That’s not a manageable K rate, but the quality of contact that was the hallmark of his college profile was on full display again. It’s understandable that he struggled a bit with swing and miss when faced with such a jump in quality of competition, and I think it would be reasonable to expect that he can improve that part of his statline with more experience at higher levels. He’ll need to show improvement relatively quickly given his age, but he projects very well to a major league bench if that happens.

Houston has come away with some great infield finds in the latter rounds of recent drafts, most notably David Hensley and Will Wagner of late, and while Borden’s profile is very different from either of those two, he has an opportunity to join that group with some improved contact ability. Primarily a second baseman with Tech, he manned third base most often in the Astros system and also has quite a bit of shortstop experience as well as some outfield work earlier on in his career. He should be playable at most of those spots on a part-time basis further up the ladder, so the utility fit is obvious. If he can avoid whiffs a bit more effectively, he’ll become a Top 30 consideration in short order. I expect him to return to Asheville to start 2023, and have my eye on him as a potential deep sleeper in the system.